Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fire review

I received my Kindle Fire on November 16 and decided to use it for awhile before posting a review.

The Fire is similar in size to my Kindle 2. The Fire is a bit narrower but twice as thick. It is also much heavier. In general I don't have too much problem with the weight since I usually have it laying on a table or my lap when I'm reading. 

I love that the Fire is a multitasker. I tend to get bored rather easily and like to have multiple options to occupy myself. While the Kindle offers books and some games maybe a little background music, the Fire offers that and much more. The addition of apps makes the Fire a winner. I can check the weather, surf the internet, read and write email, shop and play games. Books download super fast. It is constrained to wi-fi connectivity which is probably the biggest downside I've found. With the addition of 3G this would be killer.

The touch screen took a little getting used to. I hate hate hate the unavoidable fingerprints all over the screen and keep a microfiber cloth in the case to constantly clean it. I did put a screen protector on it as soon as I got it but took it off after a week because it made the screen a tad blurry. Naked, the images are crystal clear although (as you can tell from the picture) the screen is quite reflective which is a problem in sunlight. 

I purchased a hard cover for the Fire to help protect the screen. I chose a convertible cover since the Fire is also an excellent video player. I stream videos all the time. Streaming is smooth (if you notice lagging in your playback, reboot and it will solve the problem). The sound is great with built in stereo speakers (my iPod Touch has horrible, tin-ny sound without external speakers). 

I'm not enamored with the Carousel, the Fire's feature that shows all of your recently accessed content on the top row of the display. You are not able to remove items from the Carousel, hopefully this will be available in a future update. I like to keep my stuff uncluttered and this is quite annoying. The flipping action is also irritating. Although you can see 4 or 5 items on the row you can only open the left most icon and I frequently scroll right past what I need. I generally just ignore the Carousel and tap the menu bar to go to the content I want be it books, apps or web. You can pin favorite apps to your home screen as well. You can see I've got mail, weather, Pulse (blog reader) and You Tube pinned to my first shelf. I'm not sure how many shelves you get since I've not really pinned too much yet.

My last complaint is the power switch. On the Kindle the switch is a slider at the top of the device. It's pretty darn hard to accidentally turn it off. On the Fire the switch is a push button at the bottom of the unit. I have no idea what brainiac came up with this ridiculous idea. I find if I'm holding it like a book I frequently push the button and put my screen to sleep or worse, reboot it. The option, of course, is just to hold it upside down. Once the device is taken out of sleep mode the screen automatically adjusts itself to the orientation you are holding it in. 

All in all I LOVE my Fire. Would I recommend it to replace a Kindle? Depends on what you want to do. The Kindle is by far a better reading device. The screen is much easier on your eyes. Page turning is easier. In my opinion buttons are way easier than tapping at exactly the right spot to turn a page. Plus, I fell asleep reading on my Fire the other night and must have had my finger resting on the screen. I found my spot had jumped from 17% to 85% when I woke up! That couldn't happen on a Kindle. To my surprise (and disappointment) they did not include page numbers on the Fire's reader even though it is available on other Kindle reading apps. The Kindle is much lighter in weight so if you like to read for long periods of time or if your eyesight requires you to hold your book at a certain distance a Kindle would be a much better choice. Another big advantage to the Kindle is being able to organize your library by collections. Fire doesn't offer any user-driven organization of your library (again, hopefully this will come in an update at some point). If you are looking for more of a multi-function device, though, I wholeheartedly recommend the Fire!!

Eco Emi

A few posts back I talked about Birchbox, a subscription beauty sample program. I stayed subscribed for 3 months but then dropped out. Too many of the products were things I just wouldn't use and it didn't seem like the best fit for me right now.

Since then I've heard of a number of other sample programs but one that particularly struck my fancy is Eco Emi. While Birchbox is generally just beauty products (although I did get a nutrition bar in one box) Eco Emi is all about the natural. The boxes feature all sorts of naturally minded products from beauty to home care to food. Since I'm making the effort to be more conscious of the products I use I decided to make the switch. Eco Emi is a bit more expensive at $15 per month. However, you get more samples per box. Plus there are discount codes for most of the items in the box so you could save some money if you decide to purchase full size products of the items you've sampled. My first box arrived this week.
I am really happy with my first box and will try every one of the samples. My box included a foot cream, shampoo, conditioner, essential mist (which is a fabulous face mist!), a chocolate bar (can not wait to try this one!!), a colored lip balm, hand cream, face mask and eye shadow. Not only are the products all things I normally use, I'm totally chuffed that they are made with ingredients I don't have to worry about. 
The downsides (at least for me) about Eco Emi are that they charge you the first of the month prior to when they ship your box. I paid for November's box in the beginning of October. And they don't ship until late in the month, this month the boxes shipped on the 21st. So you've got quite a wait until you get your first box. 

If you are interested in Eco Emi and want to see more of what they include in their boxes, just do a You Tube search for Eco Emi.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Coolest nail polish ever!

A few months back my mother got a magnetic manicure at the salon and I was smitten. When I had vacation last week I treated myself to a professional manicure with the magnetic polish. The effect was stunning. The pro version of the polish is put out by LCN and they do sell to the public. They offer several colors and 2 magnet designs and you can buy them individually or by as a full kit. The magnets are sold separately.

There is now a consumer line that has the magnet built right into the cap. So when Sephora had their friends and family sale I snapped up both colors offered by Nails Inc. Today I'm wearing Houses of Parliament. 

While the pro polish only requires one coat, Nails Inc instructs you to apply one coat, let it dry, then apply a second coat and while it is wet (you have to do each nail as you paint them) hold the magnetic cap over your nail to draw the magnetic particles to the surface. The picture shows what a gorgeous effect you get. I read in Vogue last month that you can gently move the magnet while the polish is setting to create different effects. I just held it steady for this look. 

The nice thing about the Nails Inc cap is it has a little guide built in to help prevent you from touching the magnet to your nail while the polish is wet. I like to keep my nails on a flat surface to paint them, but it is much easier to hold your hand at eye level when using the magnet. 

I only just painted my nails today so I'll append this post later in the week as to how well the polish wears.

Update: The polish lasted quite well. I painted on Saturday and made it to Wednesday before I saw noticeable chips. I did apply a top coat every other day. I work on a computer all day long so my nails do take a bit of a beating. The polish was a bear to remove with my Karma Organics remover. It took quite a bit more work than regular polish, but did come off completely. If I were in a hurry I would probably resort to acetone for this type of polish.

Verdict: I LOVE this polish. I hope Nails Inc comes out with a wider variety of colors and magnet patterns in the future.

Natural wonders

Some time ago, way back in the days of Lime & Violet, they mentioned natural deodorant and sparked my curiosity. I blogged about it here. My quest to find a great natural deodorant slowly turned into a quest to green my whole beauty routine. Having read both Sophie Uliano's Gorgeously Green and the fabulous No More Dirty Looks, I've become more aware of what's in the beauty products I use and what the potential hazards of those chemicals are. While there's some things I am not currently willing to budge on (like my perfume and MAC lipstick), there are a lot of things that can easily be changed. It's not always easy to find truly natural products, but I just have to share some of the truly wonderful products I've found in my quest.

Lavanilla deodorant. This line is all some variation of vanilla scented, so if you don't like vanilla, you're kind of out of luck. However, the scent isn't terribly strong and does fade. As I said, natural deodorant is where the quest started. It's taken me over a year to find my HG product and this is it. Pricey as hell, but it seems to last forever. This deodorant doesn't cause any irritation, doesn't melt in hot weather, comes in a tube so it's not messy like most natural deodorants in cream form, smells great, and, most importantly, keeps me smelling great. And it is truly natural. No aluminum, no triclosan, no propylene glycol.

Pangea Organics. I purchased their dry skin sampler kit so I could try a variety of products. The stand outs have been the Balancing Oil, Rosemary & Orange Toner and the Mandarin & Rose Facial Cream. I didn't care for the cleanser or mask. 

Karma Organics Organic Nail Polish Remover. This one blew me away. I'm a nail polish junkie. But I'm not crazy about the stink and toxic chemicals that comprise remover. When I saw this one mentioned on You Tube I decided to check it out. It is unlike any polish remover I've ever tried. This one is oil based. I place a cotton round over the bottle and do three spots of remover on the pad. This is enough to do both hands if the polish is light. For dark polish or if I have several coats of polish, I may have to do a second pad. It does take a bit more effort to remove the polish than with acetone which dissolves it nearly instantaneously. I rub each nail for a few seconds then move to the next nail. By the time I get back to the first nail the polish has softened and a bit of rubbing with the cotton pad removes every trace of polish (even the super darks come off cleanly). There is no offensive odor. Your bathroom won't stink for hours from the acetone laden cotton balls in the trash can. I purchased the lavender scent which smells just like lavender but even this scent fades quickly. As I said, the remover is oil based so you have to thoroughly wash your hands if you want to repolish right away. However, that oil base and all the massaging with a cotton pad leaves your nails & cuticles super hydrated.

And finally, yes, a natural perfume (there ARE good ones out there!)
Harvey Prince. I just found this one. I found a coupon for a free sample size rollon bottle of Eau de Creme so I decided to give it a try. Sweet, gourmand. Very lovely. Reminds me of a less vulgar version of Thierry Mugler Angel. They also sent a sample vial of Eau Flirt which is a lavender pumpkin scent and also fabulous. Score, there's now a coupon here for a free sample rollon of Eau Flirt! I'm pretty sure you can't use both at the same time and I'm not sure the Eau de Creme coupon is still active, but if you are interested, go check it out.

As I continue my quest for natural goodies I'll be sure to post them up here.